Security by design: building a foundation of trust for successful IoT deployments
Securing the Internet of Things (IoT) does not require a radically new, complex set of ideas and principles.
What it needs is an evolution of best practices that have been built up over many years in all areas of IT security.
The starting point for securing an IoT deployment should be the principles of security by design.
Let's dive in.
What is Security by Design?
Security by design is a methodology that ensures security is a crucial objective at all stages of product creation and deployment.
It addresses the challenge that, in many historic hardware deployments and instances of IoT design, security considerations were often included late in the design and prototyping phase.
By prioritizing speed to market or other design considerations, security requirements can end up being added on.
This approach has led to serious security breaches in the past, as IoT security can not easily be retrofitted.
Key examples are unsecured devices that enable attackers to breach an otherwise secure system or large numbers of connected devices that cannot be upgraded to deal with emerging threats.
Why do we need IoT Security by Design?
Because IoT solutions are often deployed in numbers, sometimes in hard-to-reach locations. For a decade or more, pre-planning and foresight are essential to maintaining the integrity of IoT applications.
Compared to IT, the IoT is still in its infancy.
Security procedures and standards do not govern IoT products. Connected devices are sometimes lacking security measures, and in some cases, were not meant to be connected to other systems or applications in the first place.
As the security architect for IoT solutions, you'll have to define a strategy for hardware, applications, communication layers, and storage that fits your organization's security requirements.
The three keys to a secure-by-design IoT architecture
#1. The Thales Security by Design approach ensures that IoT security is considered at the beginning of project design. A successful security architecture ensures that devices are protected in the right location and at the right level to meet the needs of each implementation.
In essence, you start with a security risk analysis.
You list your threats, vulnerabilities, and the probability of an attack happening, and what the impact of that attack would be.
Then decide on appropriate countermeasures.
#2. Thales' security by design strategy continues with implementing a solid foundation of trusted digital device IDs and credentials, securely stored in the roots of devices, during manufacturing. Trusted credentials defend against device cloning, data tampering, theft, or misuse.
#3. For extra sensitive IoT applications, including automotive, healthcare, and smart grids, Thales recommends storing IDs and credentials in a tamper-resistant Secure Element to protect physical and digital access.
Three Keys to Successful Security Strategy
- Security by design approach at the beginning of IoT projects
- Trusted devices IDs and credentials embedded during manufacturing
- Lock IDs and credentials in secure hardware containers
Security-by-design is the foundation of any secure IoT deployment. Pre-embedded IDs and encryption keys are essential elements for secure data encryption, the digital signature of messages, and the over-the-air device and security updates.
Your defense-in-depth strategy
Security cannot rely on just one security mechanism.
Security by design means thinking like an attacker, and in return, layering defenses in a way designed to protect data and devices even in the event of a breach.
These multiple defensive measures, known as the in-depth defense principle, mean that should make one layer fall to an attacker, other mechanisms remain in place to mitigate potential damage done.
Protecting each part of an IoT deployment – the devices, the gateways and connections, and the cloud layer and users – with these layered defenses gives your network the best cybersecurity architecture.
The approach emphasizes reliable identification, authentication, access methods, privilege management, and encryption of all data when stored – be it in the device, in a gateway, or cloud platform - or when it is in motion on the network or on the way to it the cloud.
- Identification, authentication and privilege management improve confidentiality and can guarantee traceability and prevent fraudulent activities.
- The encryption mechanism ensures data confidentiality and integrity, rendering stolen data useless, and preventing data tampering.
Securing data on its way to the cloud
Protecting a single device isn't enough: security by design needs to take the holistic view of what happens when that device is attached to a network.
Pre-embedded keys and credentials are crucial for simplified data enrollment in IoT cloud platforms.
Keys and credentials ensure that IoT devices are authentic and recognized by legitimate partners as trustworthy.
Essentially, this means external platforms immediately recognize devices, and trust is quickly established for future data exchange.
Besides, Thales uses robust encryption technology to protect data integrity and ensure that only authorized devices and apps can access data through secure digital signature schemes.
Once the data has reached external platforms, it should also be protected.
Learn more about securing data to the cloud
IoT security concerns
99% of organizations surveyed for the 2020 Thales Data Threat Report expressed concerns relating to IoT security. It's much more than what we measured in our 2017 survey.
- How to effectively protect sensitive data?
- How to manage the lack of skills to implement security efficiently?
A security-by-design approach to IoT deployments is designed to mitigate risks like these.
It also assumes that no device or network is 100% secure and that at some stage, a connected device or system could be successfully attacked.
We highlight three critical areas for consideration:
• End-to-end encryption for all communication between IoT devices, machines, and back-office systems.
• Protecting data at rest, both from unauthorized access and from being altered.
• Use strong authentication and identity management for all interactions with IoT devices and data.
Managing the security lifecycle of IoT devices
Managing the lifecycle of security components across the device and cloud spectrum to minimize attack surface is critical to a robust and long-term digital security strategy, and it is often overlooked.
Security is not a one-off activity but an evolving part of the IoT ecosystem that should support IoT deployments' lifecycle in:
- Adding new devices and decommissioning others,
- Onboarding to new cloud platforms,
- Running secure software updates,
- Implementing regulated key renewals,
- Maintaining large fleets of devices.
All these activities necessitate the comprehensive management of identities, keys, and tokens.
IoT Security lifecycle management solutions must facilitate updates remotely and execute them across large-scale device fleets to avoid time-consuming and costly services in the field.
Thales provides state-of-the-art solutions to build a sustainable security lifecycle management infrastructure to address current and future security threats. Watch our video to learn more about end-to-end IoT security solutions.